Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

By William H. Chafe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE Struggle and Ambiguity

It seems to me that this community in a real sense is realizing its potential for leadership in the South.

Susie B. Jones, former Dean of Admissions at Bennett College

To me the single most important thing that came out of the 1960's is how the superstructure was able to absorb a revolutionary thrust for a long period of time [without ever really changing].

Nelson Johnson

"Some things have changed a lot, some things haven't changed at all," a black lawyer observed. "[At] Shiloh Baptist Church . . . the baton was passed from J. T. Hairston to Otis Hairston. But the philosophy didn't change. 'Let's push in all areas as much as we can for the benefit of those we serve.' In the civil rights area George Christopher Simkins, Sr., made it possible for George Christopher Simkins, Jr., to do what he did. The father passed on to the son a perspective of how things ought to go and allowed him to become active in the community. . . . Now, another generation of folk are being given an opportunity to be heard [and] you have different voices. But there is a continuity among some of the voices that reaches back fifty years."


I

Continuity: the theme is an anchor in the shifting currents of Greensboro's racial history. From the church to the school to the NAACP, a thread of protest links one generation to another. Vance Chavis refused to ride Jim Crow buses or to attend Jim Crow movie theaters; his students addressed envelopes for voter registration and became leaders of the sit-in movement; and in 1969 Chavis himself became black Greensboro's spokesman on the city council. Otis Hairston grew up in his father's Shiloh Church, organized student civil rights protests at Shaw University, and returned to Greensboro to spearhead the civil rights battle as chairman of the Greensboro Citizens Association. The NAACP Youth group, founded in 1943 by Randolph Blackwell, produced a roster of leaders destined to transform Greensboro's history--

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Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I Years of Protest 11
  • Chapter One - Inch by Inch----- 13
  • Chapter Two - the Politics of Moderation 42
  • Chapter Three - the Sit-Ins Begin 71
  • Chapter Four - a Time of Testing 102
  • Chapter Five - "My Feet Took Wings" 119
  • Part II Years of Polarization 153
  • Chapter Six - "We Will Stand Pat" 155
  • Chapter Seven - Black Power 172
  • Chapter Eight the End or the Beginning 203
  • Chapter Nine Struggle and Ambiguity 237
  • Epilogue for the Paperback Edition 251
  • Notes 255
  • A Note on Sources 269
  • Index 275
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